Monday, January 26, 2015

Hell and the Mausoleums of Imbriogon

Photos by Jack Waldron
Cehennem ('Hell') is just off the main road some ten kilometers east of Silifke.  If you wish to descend into 'Hell', well, this is probably one of the most scenic places to do so.
Though I am not in Turkey to build on the caving skills gained as a young lad under my father's tutelage, I did wish to see what 'Hell' was like.  A tight spiral staircase carried patrons both up and down the narrow round shaft into 'Hell' (pictured above) . . . , it was much colder than I thought 'Hell' would be.  While, just up the road from 'Hell' is the 'Cave of Wishes' (pictured below), which is also part of the Corycian Cave group.
Along the route to the 120 meter deep sinkage, a Byzantine era church/monastery guards the entrance into the depths; the photo below was taken from about the 50 meter point, and looking down into the abyss was truly astonishing.
Just across the road from the entrance to the 'Cave of Wishes' sits the 3rd or 2nd century BC Temple of Zeus Corycius (pictured below).
Pictured below, I am standing inside the Temple of Zeus Corycius, which was corried and transformed into a Byzantine church; notice the round apse at the head of the building.
Exploring behind the Temple of Zeus Corycius I came across a rare find, an extremely well preserved 'Lesbian' Polygonal wall that dates from the Hellenistic period (pictured below).

The village of Demircili is built over ancient Imbriogon, which today still displays the magnificent mausoleums built for rich citizenry of the 1st centuries AD.
The lower mausoleum (pictured above) approximately 5m x 4m x 6m, and is decorated with attached columns with capitals in the Corinthian order on its corners. A side view of the lower mausoleum (pictured below) shows the tiles that still protect the inner chamber after nearly two-thousand years.
The lower mausoleum is missing the two central columns, and the architrave has collapsed.

The mausoleums (pictured above and below) are 500 meters up the road from the lower mausoleum.  The tomb on the left measures 5m x 6m x 6m, and was fronted with beautifully ornamented Corinthian columns, of which two remain.  The tomb on the right measures 4m x 4m x 7.5m, and is decorated with columns of both the Ionic order (lower level) and the Corinthian order with fluted columns (upper level).

The upper mausoleum (pictured above and below) measures approximately 4.5m x 4m x 7.5m, has two stories and is also decorated with columns of both the Ionic order (lower level) and the Corinthian order (upper level).

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Olba: City of Priest-Kings

Photos by Jack Waldron
Olba, which lies four kilometers to the east of Diocaesarea, was "the capital of a temple state, administered by priest kings from the beginning of the 3C BC".  Pictured above beyond the Olba information sign, the ancient fountain (Nymphaeum) stands at the cross-roads that lead to the ancient cities of Diocaesarea, Corycus and Seleucia.  Beyond the Nymphaeum lies the acropolis of Olba.  To the right of the sign in the photo above lies the small theater, now being excavated and re-assembled (pictured below).
Many of Olba's upper city towers remain, and are connected by protective walls. On the opposite side of the acropolis from the theater and city center (further down the road), a monumental four story high aqueduct still stands. 
In the picture above, the aqueduct is to the left, and two towers crown this side of the acropolis.
The aqueduct once delivered water to the Nymphaeum in the city center (other side of the acropolis from pictured above), which in turn gave the city access to the water.
After passing under the aqueduct, a magnificent valley opens up that holds many hidden treasures.
The valley is called Devil's valley, as water only runs when it rains or when snow melts. The valley runs for 40 kilometers and ends at the sea and the ancient city of Corycus, which I passed when I was cycling along the coast.
The foundations of houses and other buildings can be found along the walls of the valley (such as the one pictured above).
The valley also contains the ancient necropolis, where numerous rock face tombs and sarcophagi can be investigated.  
Pictured below, a view looking back up the valley at the aqueduct (in the far distance), with the acropolis to the left.

The great mausoleum tomb:
The great mausoleum tomb, built in the Doric order and surmounted by a frieze featuring metopes and triglyphs. The tomb lies across a shallow valley from Diocaesarea at 1200 meters above sea-level, and can be seen from the theater of that ancient city (see post for Diocaesarea).  
The mausoleum has a pyramidal roof and stands about 16 meters high (measured 5 meters x 5 meters x 16 meters), and was once topped with a statue of the person buried within, most likely a Hellenistic priest-king who ruled over Olba.
Entrance into the tomb is supposed to be forbidden, however, when I visited, the door was unblocked. Inhumation took place under the stone floor, but unfortunately, robbers had discovered this entrance long ago.  Below, I am sitting in the shade on the base of the tomb.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Diocaesarea: Temple of Zeus Olbius

Photos by Jack Waldron
The Roman city of Diocaesarea (present day Uzuncaburc) was the cult center of greater Olba (Ura), which lies 4 kilometers to the east; both Diocaesarea and Olba lie 30 kilometers north of Silifke.  The Parade Gate (pictured above) that leads down the central colonnaded street, dates from the 1C AD, and originally was six columns across, and two deep, totaling twelve columns in all.  The consoles protruding from the columns once held statues.  Beyond the Parade Gate is the central colonnaded street that ends at the temple of Tyche.  Pictured below, a very old ottoman style house sits next to the Parade Gate, where also sits a stele with a Roman proclamation.
Pictured above and below in Dioceasarea, the temple of Zeus Olbios (Temple of Jupiter), 6 by 12 columns, four of which still bear their capitals sculptured in the Corinthian style; built in 295 BC, it is the oldest peripteral temple in Asia Minor.
Above, a close-up view of the temple of Zeus from the side, showing where a door was installed when the temple was converted into a church during the Byzantine period. Within the temple sanctuary there is a very unique sarcophagus lid relief of three persons, two of the persons are holding the upper arms of two other as to comfort them (pictured below).  
Walking further down the central colonnaded street, you come to the temple of Tyche, which has five of its original six columns standing and crowned with Corinthian capitals (pictured above and below).  
The temple design is extremely unique and rare, as the cella (the chamber that houses the cult statue) sits outside the square plan of the temple some 34 meters behind (pictured above, outside the back of the chamber and pictured below, underneath the chamber).  
As I was sitting in the shade at the back of the chamber of the temple of Tyche writing a poem, two gentlemen saw me and inquired where I was from and what I was doing.  We spoke for a long while (pictured above), and eventually (after fully exploring Diocaesarea) they insisted that I join them to see ancient Olba, which is connected to Diocaesarea, about seven kilometers down the road.  Diocaesarea was the religious and sacred center for the city of Olba.
A second colonnaded street to the right of the temple of Tyche leads to the monumental City Gate (pictured above and below), built under the co-reign of the emperors Arcadius (395-408) and Honorius (395-423) in Constantinople, which has three arched entrances with consoles that held Roman statues.  The gate bears an inscription that mentions the name "Diocaesarea", and the emperors and dates that reigned during it's construction.
Continuing along the road outside the City Gate and through the village of Uzuncaburc, you come to the High Tower, which according to an inscription on the tower, was built by Tarkyares, the son of the priest Teukros.  
The Hellenistic tower was most likely built the late 3C BC to the early 2C BC, and was a part of the city wall and a gate of entry into the city.  The inner tower contained five wooden floors which were further subdivided.  The balcony (pictured above) at 6 meters high would allow access in and out of the city without opening the gate.  
The tower could be used as a watch tower and to protect the temple treasures from bandit attacks and pirates.
The theater of Diocaesarea was constructed under the co-reign of the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius (161-180) and Lucius Verus (161-169 AD) and lies at the beginning of the central colonnaded street that lead through the Parade Gate. 
As with the theater at Hieropolis Kastabala, the orchestra and lower cavea are buried under accumulated earth.

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